Protesters roam Portland streets in ‘unlawful assembly’

Multnomah County

3rd night of protests in wake of George Floyd death

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As chants of “I can’t breathe” and “George Floyd” reverberated, thousands of protesters marched through the streets of downtown Portland for a third straight night following the death of the unarmed, handcuffed black man under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

Around 9 p.m. a crowd of about 3000 protesters crossed the Burnside Bridge, where they were met with a heavy police presence. They crossed the bridge and headed down SW 3rd, which is the street the Justice Center is on.

This vehicle tried to drive through a crowd of protesters in downtown Portland but was turned away, May 31, 2020 (KOIN)

For 45 minutes crowds mingled and it was tense but peaceful. A driver tried to drive through the crowd but was turned away by protesters who slashed his tires and smashed his window. Minutes later the mood seemed to change.

Protesters threw projectiles, chanted “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” and heard the police say that anyone who throws projectiles is subject to arrest.

Shortly after 10 p.m., a KOIN 6 News camera was spray painted by a protester. Around 10:45 p.m., someone in the crowd began shooting fireworks from inside the crowd.

Around that same time, protesters broke windows at the Federal Courthouse. Authorities said fires were set inside and police will now use “riot control agents.” The demonstrators were not able to get inside the courthouse.

Police used their loudspeakers to tell the crowd to move to the west.

Around 11:30 p.m. tensions rose when fireworks and tear gas canisters were set off. Police and protesters began to clash. Police reported that two arrests were made in that timespan.

Minutes later, Portland Police declared the crowd an “unlawful assembly” via Twitter and told people to immediately leave or they “will be subject to uses of force, to include riot control agents and impact munitions.” While demonstrators did not immediately go home, the single large crowd broke into splintered groups.

Officers chased down instances of vandalism—trash can fires, broken glass, plywood pulled off of storefronts—into the early hours of Monday morning.

Monday morning Police said 12 adults and 2 juveniles were arrested overnight, but corrected themselves on Tuesday morning saying that 10 adults and 2 juveniles were arrested. The names of charges of the arrested adults are as follows:

  • Clayton Eisaman, 30, disorderly conduct
  • Darren Stephens, 35, theft
  • Logan Watkins, 21, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, riot
  • Joseph Haddenhan, 42, disorderly conduct, interfering with a peace officer
  • Julian Grijalva, 26, riot, disorderly conduct, attempt of assault of a police officer
  • Hannah Jaquiss, 25, interfering with a peace officer, disorderly conduct, escape
  • Brandon Pirkey, 26, public indecency
  • Shakira Schroeder, 18, interfere with a peace officer
  • Anthony Leuci, 35, riot, resisting arrest, interfering with a peace officer, and two counts of assault of a police officer
  • Samuel Wharton, 22, interfering with a peace officer

When the curfew went into effect

At 8 p.m. , when the curfew began, protesters who had been at the Justice Center were dispersed by police when the curfew began. Things deteriorated rapidly.

Protesters threw smoke bombs and glass water bottles at the police, who responded with flash bangs and tear gas. Protesters were seen picking up the flash bangs and throwing them back toward the police.

Around 8:10 p.m., police labeled this gathering an “unlawful assembly.” Police began moving protesters back almost immediately. A phalanx of police gathered along SW Main and formed a line as protesters refused to leave.

Flashbangs, tear gas and projectiles were used between protesters and police outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland, May 31, 2020 (KOIN)

Tear gas canisters were released in the park near the Justice Center, which forced the crowd to move through the streets quickly. Milk was seen on the streets, a liquid used to take the sting out of the eyes from tear gas.

Police then used multiple methods — cars, tear gas, possibly rubber bullets — to chase the crowd farther into different parts of downtown, not far from the Schnitzer Concert Hall. The protester continued to move quickly away from the central city.

Another group of protesters headed from east Portland, down Burnside and toward the downtown area — near where the other group of protesters ran. This group was relatively peaceful and stayed together as they headed toward downtown, but as the march began some of the people dropped off.

There were rumors of counter-protesters mingling with the group, but nothing has been confirmed.

When it began

Shortly before 5 p.m. Portland police declared a “civil disturbance” after a large group gathered at SW 3rd and Main with multiple projectiles. The group of protesters began to march around that same time and police said they wouldn’t interfere if the march remained civil.

The march went from the Justice Center to Pioneer Courthouse Square, then back to the Justice Center. The group was large but, as of 6 p.m., remained peaceful.

But around 7:30 pm., PPB tweeted there were “a significant amount of protesters near the former SE Precinct. PPB will protect the safety and security of our building.”

PPB is encouraging peaceful assembly tonight. Our liaison officers are working with organizers of the demonstration at the former SE Precinct to encourage them to continue to march. Traffic motors are standing by to help facilitate a safety route.”

Earlier in the day

TriMet suspended downtown operations and ODOT blocked the on-ramps into the Portland area along Hwy 26, I-84 I-5 and I-405. The ramp closures could be in place until midnight, but the situation is fluid, ODOT officials said.

The Pearl District Neighborhood Association said they’ve “been advised of potential protest activity in the Pearl District” Sunday night and in the area of NW 23rd.

Different pockets of protesters in city

Police tell a secondary group of protesters in the area of 47th and Burnside near Laurelhurst Park to keep moving down the street—the road was blocked off to facilitate the march. May 31, 2020 (KOIN)

Dozens of protesters went to the Laurelhurst Park area on Burnside and met police wearing tactical gear. Chants of “Take off your riot gear, I don’t see no riot here” were interspersed with chants of “Say his name.” At the same time, police used a loudspeaker to tell the group to move along on Burnside and that the back area was blocked off for their safe march.

No one moved. Some took part in a ‘die-in’, laying down in the middle of the road.

‘Not here to fight. We want change’

Danielle James, who described herself as a Portland native, a black American and an activist not a protester, told KOIN 6 News she’s out at the demonstration for peaceful reasons.

Portland activist Danielle James at a rally for George Floyd, May 31, 2020 (KOIN)

“We’re upset about the death of George Floyd,” she said. “We’re not here to fight people. We’re not here to fight the police. We want change, real change. … The violence? No, I don’t condone it. What is that going to prove?”

She also said she’s spoken with people from other cities and states who are here to cause trouble.

People coming in from other cities and states “is making Portland look real bad. The fact is I’m personally heartbroken by the things that have taken place.”

“I love my city,” she said.

For a second straight night, a city-wide curfew begins at 8 p.m. under orders from Mayor Ted Wheeler.

At an 8 a.m. press briefing, Wheeler said cities across the country “are waking up to a dark morning in America. The cause that rallied the country to decry systematic violence and racism against our black friends and neighbors … has been co-opted by rioters and looters to use the moral soul of this movement as cover to destroy our communities.”

TriMet MAX trains and buses stopped downtown services in Portland at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The transit agency said the decision was made based on guidance from Portland Police in the wake of “this weekend’s disruptive demonstrations.” It is unclear if services will resume later Sunday night or begin on Monday morning.

Sunday afternoon, Ron Herdon, Director of Albina Head Start, added his voice to Wheeler’s sentiments on the recent violence the community has seen this past weekend.

“If somehow you think that tearing up is going to help Black people, you are sadly mistaken. Please don’t think that you are doing us any favors by tearing stuff up,” said Herdon. “We have been the victims of that ever since 1619 when the slave ship arrived.”

At least 48 people were arrested during Portland’s protest, police said, ranging in age from 19-49. A total of 26 people were charged with curfew violations, but all of them faced other, more serious charges, including riot, burglary and disorderly conduct.

KOIN 6 News will have more information as the night progresses.

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